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News Release Information

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Chattanooga — May 2021

Workers in the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $23.60 in May 2021, about 16 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 21 of the 22 major occupational groups.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Chattanooga area employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including production, transportation and material moving, and office and administrative support. Sixteen groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including educational instruction and library, computer and mathematical, and business and financial operations. (See table A.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Chattanooga metropolitan area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2021
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Chattanooga United States Chattanooga Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $28.01 $23.60* -16


6.3 6.1* 59.31 53.02* -11

Business and financial operations

6.4 5.1* 39.72 33.16* -17

Computer and mathematical

3.3 1.9* 48.01 38.16* -21

Architecture and engineering

1.7 1.6* 44.10 39.36* -11

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.4* 38.81 31.72* -18

Community and social service

1.6 1.3* 25.94 23.06* -11


0.8 0.6* 54.38 44.78* -18

Educational instruction and library

5.8 4.4* 29.88 23.82* -20

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.0* 31.78 23.55* -26

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.2 7.0* 43.80 39.01* -11

Healthcare support

4.7 3.6* 16.02 15.38* -4

Protective service

2.4 2.0* 25.68 19.91* -22

Food preparation and serving related

8.0 9.0* 14.16 11.69* -17

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 2.8* 16.23 13.56* -16

Personal care and service

1.8 1.5* 16.17 13.91* -14

Sales and related

9.4 8.8* 22.15 18.29* -17

Office and administrative support

13.0 14.1* 20.88 18.80* -10

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 16.70 17.70* 6

Construction and extraction

4.2 3.3* 26.87 22.06* -18

Installation, maintenance, and repair

4.0 4.2* 25.66 23.38* -9


6.0 10.0* 20.71 19.92* -4

Transportation and material moving

9.0 11.1* 19.88 18.04* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The mean hourly wage or percent share of employment is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

One occupational group—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Chattanooga had 24,480 jobs in production, accounting for 10.0 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $19.92, significantly below the national wage of $20.71.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators (5,600) and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers (1,810). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were power plant operators and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, with mean hourly wages of $42.08 and $30.01, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($11.06) and textile, garment, and related materials pressers ($11.95). (Detailed data for the production occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available, go to

Location quotients allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average. (See table 1.) For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area than it does nationally. In the Chattanooga area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the production group. For instance, textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders were employed at 9.8 times the national rate in Chattanooga, and textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders, at 8.0 times the U.S. average. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers had a location quotient of 1.0 in Chattanooga, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

These statistics are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and the Georgia Department of Labor.

Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Data

With the May 2021 estimates release, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program has implemented a new model-based (MB3) estimation method. For more information, see the May 2021 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement at and the Monthly Labor Review article at OEWS estimates for the years 2015-19 were recalculated using the new estimation method and are available as research estimates at

The May 2021 OEWS estimates are also the first estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. To improve data quality, the OEWS program aggregates some occupations to the SOC broad occupation level or as OEWS-specific combinations of 2018 SOC detailed occupations.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OEWS data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 580 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels, and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. OEWS data are available at

The OEWS survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the procedures and technical support, while the State Workforce Agencies collect most of the data. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 179,000 to 187,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by Internet or other electronic means, mail, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2021 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018. The unweighted sampled employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 62 percent of total national employment. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 67.2 percent based on establishments and 64.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,548 establishments with a response rate of 67 percent. For more information about OEWS concepts and methodology, go to

A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with the ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.

Metropolitan area definitions

The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Catoosa County, GA; Dade County, GA; Walker County, GA; Hamilton County, TN; Marion County, TN; and Sequatchie County, TN.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OEWS data are available at Detailed information about the OEWS program is available at

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.

Table 1. Employment and wage data for production occupations, Chattanooga metropolitan area, May 2021
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Production occupations

24,480 1.7 $19.92 $41,440

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

1,810 1.7 30.01 62,420

Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers

220 0.5 18.49 38,460

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

270 2.6 19.99 41,580

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators

5,600 2.4 19.20 39,940


560 1.8 20.03 41,660

Butchers and meat cutters

120 0.5 16.27 33,830

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

520 2.3 14.71 30,600

Food batchmakers

380 1.4 18.45 38,380

Food cooking machine operators and tenders

270 5.8 17.32 36,030

Food processing workers, all other

350 4.4 18.56 38,600

Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

200 1.9 17.56 36,520

Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

60 3.2 18.75 38,990

Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

550 1.8 17.27 35,920

Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

180 1.5 16.78 34,900

Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

60 1.7 18.17 37,790

Milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

50 1.9 20.25 42,110


720 1.3 21.94 45,630

Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

(5) (5) 17.21 35,800

Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

520 2.2 20.81 43,270

Tool and die makers

(5) (5) 23.16 48,180

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

1,290 1.9 22.74 47,310

Welding, soldering, and brazing machine setters, operators, and tenders

220 4.2 18.63 38,760

Plating machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

60 1.1 15.14 31,490

Metal workers and plastic workers, all other

410 12.5 16.24 33,770

Prepress technicians and workers

140 3.0 17.30 35,980

Printing press operators

390 1.5 20.08 41,760

Print binding and finishing workers

190 2.7 16.87 35,080

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

280 1.0 11.06 23,000

Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials

40 0.9 11.95 24,860

Sewing machine operators

250 1.2 13.00 27,030

Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders

90 8.0 17.01 35,370

Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders

30 1.7 14.51 30,180

Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders

280 9.8 16.82 34,990

Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders

290 7.6 16.61 34,560

Textile, apparel, and furnishings workers, all other

60 2.6 13.77 28,650

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters

80 0.5 18.39 38,240

Furniture finishers

50 1.8 15.75 32,750

Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood

80 1.0 17.48 36,350

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

100 0.9 16.59 34,520

Woodworkers, all other

70 5.4 16.51 34,330

Power plant operators

50 1.0 42.08 87,530

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

200 1.0 19.65 40,870

Plant and system operators, all other

40 1.7 24.27 50,480

Chemical equipment operators and tenders

290 1.5 22.69 47,190

Separating, filtering, clarifying, precipitating, and still machine setters, operators, and tenders

90 1.1 16.25 33,790

Crushing, grinding, and polishing machine setters, operators, and tenders

50 0.9 18.03 37,510

Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders

120 0.6 18.87 39,240

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

90 0.9 19.77 41,120

Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders

40 0.4 16.85 35,050

Furnace, kiln, oven, drier, and kettle operators and tenders

30 1.2 19.42 40,400

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

1,240 1.3 20.47 42,570

Dental laboratory technicians

40 0.6 22.92 47,670

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

440 0.7 17.67 36,750

Painting, coating, and decorating workers

70 3.2 17.22 35,820

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders

390 1.5 19.57 40,700

Computer numerically controlled tool operators

210 0.8 23.20 48,260

Computer numerically controlled tool programmers

60 1.3 25.45 52,930

Cleaning, washing, and metal pickling equipment operators and tenders

80 3.3 16.07 33,430

Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

270 1.8 18.38 38,230

Helpers--production workers

220 0.6 15.08 31,370

Production workers, all other

1,440 4.0 17.02 35,410

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Chattanooga, TN-GA Metropolitan Statistical Area, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations may not sum to the totals due to rounding, and because the totals may include occupations that are not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.
(3) The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
(4) Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a 'year-round, full-time' hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.
(5) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022